Along with its iconic views, West Virginia is home to a rich history, too. Spanning many generations, the stories and folklore of the Mountain State are second to none. With civil war battlegrounds, historic figures and an endlessly unique background, West Virginia is the place to be for any history-lover.
Blennerhassett Island is rich in history, originally settled in 1789 by Harman and Margaret Blennerhassett. It later became the headquarters for Aaron Burr’s military expedition to the Southwest, an event that awarded the island a permanent footnote in American history and is now named Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park. Access to the island is part of the fun with a 20-minute sternwheeler ride. Enjoy tours of the mansion and island grounds or relax with a horse-drawn carriage ride throughout the park, opening each season in May.
The Wheeling National Heritage Area celebrates the Friendly City’s dramatic setting and historical impact along the Ohio River. Experience Wheeling’s Victorian architecture, waterfront park development, and historic Centre Market. You will also find renovated industrial buildings featuring retail shops, restaurants and interpretive exhibits. Be sure to visit West Virginia Independence Hall, the birthplace of the state of West Virginia during the Civil War.
Hidden in plain sight at The Greenbrier Resort. This once top-secret 112,000-square-foot underground facility was built in 1961 to harbor every member of Congress in the event that Washington, D.C., came under nuclear attack during the Cold War. Ninety-minute guided tours take folks through an emergency television studio, House of Representatives chamber, cafeteria, water power plant and decontamination areas.
Harpers Ferry was the site of a raid by abolitionist John Brown, who tried to spark a slave revolt in 1859. The 3,647-acre park encompasses 24 restored 19th-century buildings. Visitors to this National Historical Park can see John Brown’s Fort. This was the 1848 armory firehouse that was the site of his standoff against federal forces led by Robert E. Lee. Shuttle bus tours leave from the visitors center and travel to the Lower Town Historic District, where you can find preserved structures in the town of Harpers Ferry.